by Moira Cullings
If there’s one thing people have a habit of asking, said Father Brian Schieber, it’s: “What’s the minimum?”
“How late can I get to Mass and still fulfill my obligation?” he asked. “How early can I leave? What’s the minimum number of times I need to go to confession?”
“Minimums lead to mediocrity,” added Father Schieber.
But we were made for more.
“In the Gospel, Jesus says this: ‘I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were blazing,’” said Father Schieber. “What is it that sets our hearts on fire?”
On the second night of Enflame, Father Schieber, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel in Leawood and vicar for clergy for the archdiocese, offered delegates three key elements we need to live out our Catholic faith with passion.
“It’s love that sets our hearts on fire,” said Father Schieber. “We’ve all heard God loves us.”
But Father Schieber explained simply hearing that sometimes isn’t enough.
When it comes to God’s love, we can be like children.
“Kids want to be known and loved personally and uniquely,” he said. “When I go to the [school]cafeteria and sit down and have lunch, the kids all quiz me, ‘What’s my name, Father?’
“They all want to be known by their ‘father.’”
People can come to know God’s unique love for them through prayer, he added. “A lot of prayer is about allowing God to love us and to be receptive and open to receiving that personal and unique love God has.”
Catholics can get caught up in the minute details of practicing the faith and forget the bigger picture, said Father Schieber.
“Do you believe everything the right way?” he said. “Do you behave the right way? Then you belong to the church.
“But maybe we got it backwards. Maybe we need to begin with belonging. And that inspires the faith, which changes our hearts and our behaviors.”
Often, people who have left the church feel lost and don’t believe they can come home, he explained.
“[But] the name of God, Pope Francis said, is mercy,” he said, “and he’s calling our church to lead with mercy to inspire and enflame in people’s hearts a new hope.”
Father Schieber might not be a priest if he hadn’t picked up a magazine on his parents’ coffee table when he was a kid.
“I began thumbing through it and seeing pictures of missionaries in Africa and South America,” he said, “and something began to enflame my heart.
“And I thought, ‘Maybe I could be a missionary.’”
That opened Father Schieber up to the bigger questions in life, like: Why am I here? What does God want of me?
“When you find your mission,” he said, “you have meaning and purpose and fire.”
Father Schieber encouraged those in attendance to follow their mission and be a light for others.
“We need you,” he said. “You’re on the front lines of the evangelization.”
He also emphasized the importance of unification for these efforts.
“When we work together,” he said, “we accomplish more.
“And we can set hearts on fire.”